How the UN Can Help Fight Anti-Semitism (NATIONAL POST COMMENTARY) Hillel C. Neuer 01/26/05)
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For the first time ever, the United Nations commemorated the
Monday, in a special session marking 60 years since the liberation of
Nazi death camps. Secretary-General Kofi Annan admirably rallied wide
support for convening the gathering. Yet at a time when anti-Semitism
reached its worst levels since 1945 - a period symbolized by the
beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl with his last words of "I am a
the UN´s response remains troubling.
Last June, the United Nations hosted a seminar on anti-Semitism.
Annan, who delivered a strong address, those presenting were mostly
experts, speaking to an audience primarily of Jewish leaders. The
its merits, but providing a room in Manhattan for a group of Jews to
amongst themselves is hardly the contribution one expects from the UN
confronting a global disease.
With a pulpit of unrivalled reach, the UN must take a leadership role
communicating the international community´s resolve to fight hatred
Jews. This it must do not only by condemning anti-Semitism in
resolutions, but by considering a panoply of other available measures.
First, following the 2000 Stockholm Declaration, in which 45 nations
committed to an annual commemoration of the Holocaust, the General
should establish its own remembrance day. This would be a perpetual
of the evils of anti-Semitism, a bulwark against Holocaust deniers
universal lesson against all forms of intolerance.
Second, the UN Commission on Human Rights should establish a Special
Rapporteur on anti-Semitism, as the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe has done with a Special Representative, and
United States with a Special Envoy. Failing that, the commission
instruct the Special Rapporteur on racism to specifically examine
anti-Semitism, as it has done with Islamophobia.
Finally, treaty bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination should pay greater attention to anti-Semitism, such as
holding a special thematic discussion similar to that held for the
These initiatives could make a difference. The truth, though, is that
cannot credibly fight anti-Semitism in the world, when, within its
walls, it actually fosters it.
By systematically singling out Israel for discriminatory treatment,
not only violates the equality guarantee of its own charter, but
their basic right to peoplehood. The medieval depiction of the Jew as
poisoner of the well has become transposed into the Jewish state as,
words of a senior adviser to Annan, "the great poison in the region."
Prejudice against Israel pervades the UN. Paradoxically, the
Human Rights offers itself as a case study of this bigotry. At last
session in March and April, I observed no fewer than seven instances
gross discrimination against the Jewish state.
First, approximately 25% of the debates were dedicated to attacking
Second, out of the commission´s 10 country-specific resolutions, five
targeted Israel. Third, while one agenda item examined the human
violations of all 191 states, an entirely separate item was devoted
exclusively to scrutinizing Israel. Fourth, Israel was the only state
full admission into any of the five regional groups. Every morning
the six-week session, while 190 countries met for vital consultations
their regional groups, the Israeli representative was - literally -
standing in the corridor.
Fifth, many of the commission´s independent experts
censure Israel. If Palestinian men beat their wives, says Yakin
UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, it´s Israel´s fault.
last year´s session convened but one emergency sitting - not for the
million-plus victims of Darfur, who were virtually ignored, but to
Israel for killing Ahmed Yassin, head of the Hamas terrorist group,
eulogized as a "spiritual leader." Seventh, side events sponsored by
frequently cast Israel as the ultimate villain. When the
Commission of Jurists held a debate on Israel´s security barrier in
Bank, they failed to invite a single panelist to present Israel´s
Kofi Annan has promised that "the fight against anti-Semitism must be
fight, and Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their
too." To accomplish that, the UN must recognize Monday´s event as
Hillel C. Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva,
Switzerland. email@example.com (Copyright © 2005 CanWest
Interactive Inc. 01/26/05)
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